Christians Make Up Increasing Share of Refugees Under President Trump
Since taking office, President Trump has managed to turn former president Obama’s refugee policy on its head.
Under Obama, the administration seemed to prioritize applications from Muslim-majority countries, and was particularly sympathetic to applicants from Syria, Iraq, and Somalia. This is made clear by the State Department’s Refugee Processing Center‘s data, which shows that the proportion of Muslim refugees increased dramatically under Obama. Furthermore, in 2016 the US accepted the highest number of Muslim refugees of any year.
Likewise, no religious test was applied to applicants from these Muslim-majority countries. This meant that Assyrian Christian and Yazidis, who were systematically targeted by ISIS for genocide, slavery, and prostitution, were not given priority over Muslim applicants (who faced no such danger).
Needless to say, Obama’s refugee policy was poorly-calibrated, as it did not protect those most in danger. Studies (and common sense) shows that Christians are, by far, the most persecuted group in the world. This is no surprise given that many small Christian communities live in intolerant, often violent, Muslim nations—think of the Maronite Christians in Lebanon and Syria, or the Coptic Christians in Egypt.
According to data collected by Pew Research, the number of Muslims accepted into the US as refugees has fallen under President Trump, from 50% in February of all refugees to 31% in June. Likewise, the proportion of Christians accepted has increased from 41% to 57% during the same period, as has the number of other religious minorities.
This is a welcome change that better reflects the current state of affairs in the Muslim world. While it is true that many Muslims likely qualify for refugee status, the fact is that America can only take so many people. Therefore, we must prioritize those whose lives are most in danger. These are Christians, Yazidis, and other religious minorities.
Facts are facts: Sunni Muslims in Syria may be in danger, but the threats they face are simply not as great as those faced by Assyrian Christians.
Why is the US Accepting More Christian Refugees Under President Trump?
The main reason that the US is now accepting more Christian, as opposed to Muslim, refugees is because the countries of origin have changed. That is, rather than accepting many refugees from Syria and Somalia (Muslim countries), Trump’s administration has prioritized refugees from places like the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ukraine, and Eritrea (Christian countries).
This is, in part due to President Trump’s executive order requiring better vetting from certain countries, and travel bans in others (the infamous “Muslim ban”), a temporary halt of the US Refugee Resettlement Program, and the lowering of the refugee admissions cap.
Either way, the fact that America is beginning to recognize the seriousness of the Ukrainian Refugee Crisis, and the plight of Christians in the Middle East and Africa, is a welcome turn of events.